In this episode, I talk with Alexa Mieses, a 2nd-year medical student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. (Update: Alexa is now Dr. Alexa Mieses!) Today, we talk about mentorship, its impact on Alexa’s life and her path into medicine, and why she now passes this onto others as she continues to be a positive influence through mentoring.
Alexa is also the author of a book, The Heartbeat of Success: A Med Student’s Guide to Med School Admissions, which offers logical and accurate advice on applying to medical school.
Alexa’s path to medicine:
- 2nd-year medical student at Mt. Sinai in New York City
- Master of Public Health program (Update: Alexa graduated with both MD and MPH in 2016)
- Getting a scholarship at Mt. Sinai
What set Alexa up for success in getting a scholarship at Sinai:
- Choosing to major in biology and minor in psychology
- Exploring her love for writing on the side
- Becoming a member of the Minority Association of Premedical Students (MAPS), the undergrad arm of the National Medical Association, an organization specifically for medical students of color with a two-fold mission:
- Help medical students of color succeed in medical school.
- Raise awareness about health disparities, as well as health equity and social justice issues.
- Being exposed to health disparity issues while growing up in Queens, New York.
- Being awarded the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, a fellowship that provides opportunities to undergrads for professional development through full-time summer internships for 3 summers, professional development seminars, and cultural activities
Her experiences as a Jeannette K. Watson fellow:
- Teaching biology and ecology at the Bronx Zoo for the first summer
- Her increasing interest in public health
- Spending her second summer at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an HIV community-based organization, specifically at the public policy department
- Writing her first magazine article about a phenomenon called “corrective rape” and its impact on the spread of HIV
- Her article being published in Pulse Magazine’s Treatment Issues
The impetus for Alexa to pursue medicine:
- Not being the best student in high school, and becoming very ill
- Students in her high school dying of drug-related causes
- Becoming involved with a drug-awareness club in high school that got her interested in psychiatry and neuroscience
- Her high school experience giving her the fuel and energy to do well in college
Her college experience:
- Failing in her pre-calculus class
- Joining a peer tutoring program
The power of course correction:
- When you face obstacles, before taking another step forward, stop for a moment
- Try to figure out what went wrong and how to get back on course
The implications of being a tutor:
- Allowing her to reinforce a lot of the fundamental scientific concepts that helped her with her high-level courses and the MCAT
- Teaching as one of the best ways of learning
The impact of mentorship on Alexa’s life
Alexa says mentorship is transformative. She specifically mentions:
- Getting involved in Mentoring in Medicine, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students interested in pursuing a career in the health professions learn more about that career and become more competitive for the different programs
- Meeting two doctors who have helped her in school as well as with her medical school application; her mentors being able to fill that void in her professional life
How to find a mentor as a premed:
- Your peers can be your mentor. You don’t need a physician to provide you with guidance. They don’t need to be older than you.
- A mentor is someone who can be supportive and can help you find solutions to your problems.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. There are many different ways to reach out such as email, Skype, social media.
- Be fearless. The worse thing that can happen is they will tell you no. But you’ll never know what they’re going to say if you don’t ask.
- If you get a no, keep searching until you find someone else who is willing to be a mentor to you.
- Periodically keep in contact with your advisors, professors, and colleagues. You never know what opportunities can come from that.
About her book, The Heartbeat of Success:
- A guide to medical school admissions
- A 30-day challenge sponsored by Mentoring in Medicine and Small Business Camp
- Her goal of being able to reach a larger audience and offer them invaluable tools and tips to succeed in the medical school admissions process, especially to those who don’t have much access to resources
- Writing her book in 30 days—Wow!
Listening to different voices:
- As a premed, take every bit of advice with a grain of salt.
- Try to hear as many perspectives as possible, and lay out every piece of advice like cards on the table.
- It’s okay to deviate from the traditional premed path, but just be prepared to explain why you made that decision.
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
Do what you love. If you’re doing what you’re most passionate about, you will naturally excel. You will naturally shine. If you’re not even sure yet as to what you’re passionate about, that’s okay. Spend time figuring out what you love.If you're doing what you're most passionate about, you will naturally excel. You will naturally shine.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources:
- Alexa’s Website
- Alexa’s Book: The Heartbeat of Success: A Med Student’s Guide to Med School Admissions
- Related post: Premed Advisors: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
- Related episode: Is the Role of Your Premed Advisor to Tell You No?
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